Australian Amiga Gathering 1997 Report

The event was months ago, but this new report attempts to clear up uncertainties from the previous report

By Guy Nathan, Contributing Writer, cyberwlf@wr.com.au

Welcome to a report of the Australian Amiga Gathering 1997. Organised and Co-ordinated by Australian Amiga Gazette and held between the days of the 28th of June and 29th of June this year. The first day went from 10 AM 'til 5 PM, and the second day from 10 AM 'til 4 PM. It was held in a building within Sydney's Sydney Showground, which in the past has been most noted for hosting The Royal Easter Show.

The turnout at the show on the first day was extremely good and outdid the expectations of most who had stands there, and for this supposedly 'dead' platform in Australia the place was packed almost all day on the 28th (Saturday). Although Sunday was rather quieter, there was still a good amount of people who showed up and even those who attended the show for two of the days agreed the turnout was great overall.

Although I am a freelance writer who's written for numerous publications including Australian Amiga Gazette my actual job at the show primarily was to represent the ICOAi (Industrial Council and Open Amiga Initiative). But I also assisted with duties such as ticket-related things at the entrance to the show as well as token help at the Australian Amiga Gazette/Shareware booth stand.



The Companies:

At the show there was a good turnout of Amiga companies who brought along their product lines and all the stock they could carry. The general feedback from a lot of companies seemed to be that they didn't expect there to be that many people, so some companies may have been understocked with some products in some cases.

The companies which came along were:


As well as the organisations:

As well as this there was a representative for Amiga International, Basil from TAEN (The Amiga Education Network), and two ICOAi Representatives, me and Paul Morabito. By no means, for an Australian Amiga show, could this be considered to be a small show.

Some companies who did not show include the likes of Megatron, a company wishing to be the Official Australian Amiga Distributors. A lot of other companies who didn't show, did this due to being unable to afford the flight to Sydney with themselves and all their stock.



The Product Lines:

All the companies who went along, as well as displaying all the products they usually retail, also displayed the products they are distributors for.


Amadeus Computers:

They were the distributors for Digita and Cloanto, and had their products there, as well as a variety of other games and hardware and a huge variety of CD-ROM's going at cheaper-than-normal prices. They also had deals such as AFS User version going for $25 and SAS C going for $99, as well as a range of BSB Books going for $25 or so and covering the topics of Amiga C and Assembly programming, Introduction to Workbench, Introduction to the Amiga, and more.


G Soft/Software Buyers Service:

G Soft were the representatives for phase 5, unfortunately upon asking about the PowerUp boards being available for display I was told although the board was requested it was never sent to them in time for the show. Besides this these two companies combined their stands and were selling a huge range of Amiga hardware and software including Studio (Printer Software) of which G Soft are distributors for, as well as being an organisation in which one could officially register Miami. Software Buyers Service were distributors for AWeb 3.0 and Village Tronic, and Warp Engine products, so products such as the Picasso IV and AWeb 3.0 could be bought here. A lot of good deals could be found on this stand between the two businesses which occupied it. The Infinitiv Micronik tower was also on display at this stand.


GP Software:

At this stand the infamous Greg Perry and Jonathon Potter could be found, authors of much notable Amiga software including Directory Opus 5.6 (aka. DOpus Magellan). Here you could buy their t-shirts, play around with DOpus, or talk to DOpus's authors, or even purchase something from the GP Software range if you so chose to.


Power Computing UK:

At this stand the head of Power Computing UK could be found as well as two locals. All the goods for this stand for the show were brought over with its owner from the UK. Available at the stand were some phase 5 goods (such as accelerators and the CyberVision64/3D), and even some Picasso IV boards, but most notable was Power Computing UK's game Big Red Adventure which was for sale there for only $60, not bad for an AGA Multitasking Amiga CD-ROM game. This game is available no where else in Australia. It was great to see an organisation from overseas to have come to such a show.


Australian Amiga Gazette/Shareware Booth:

At this stand was the Shareware booth where one could register on the spot Dust, Wildfire, DeliTracker2, New York, ShapeShifter, ST Fax, and more. You could also on the same stand renew or subscribe to Australian Amiga Gazette or talk to the staff of the magazine. You could also buy an 'Introduction to the A1200 Basic Tutorial Volume 1' Video, or an 'Introduction to the A1200 - A Deeper Look Volume 2' Video, going for $15 each at the show. As well as this, the stand held host to the ICOAi Representatives, of which we are most appreciative.


Computa Magic:

This stand had some amazing deals to be had on CD-ROM's. Sensible Soccer CD32, Chaos Engine CD32, Netnews Offline CD, and other CD's were going for $5 each. They are also the distributors for ProDAD, DKB Peripherals, Golden Image, Migraph, and Roctek, so all the products they could bring along from these companies were there to be had. On asking about p-OS, I was told due to it currently being in pre-release form and only in German they did not have it for sale there, but when it is completed, a period of 4-5 weeks later one can expect an English version to be released, and at that point they shall sell it. In my opinion even a demo of it in German would have been preferable to not even showing it at all. They also had a huge variety of cheap mice going for around $10 to $15. They were also selling clickBOOM's Capital Punishment, most of the Vulcan range of games, and numerous other Amiga titles, as well as a whole host of old Amiga games.


Techmedia:

At this stand there was a constant running demo of the MacroSystem's Casablanca, a Digital Video Editing suite, which was running a pre-edited video done using that suite which was being spooled off the harddrive. Another Amiga there was using Scala and an MPEG Playback unit to display a full-screen bit of footage the whole time. As well was MacroSystem's DraCo in operation also constantly being used to display things (although mostly left on the Movieshop screen whenever I went by). Also for sale here was MacroSystem's VLab Motion card and ArtEffect. Brochures for the DraCo were also available. This stand attracted a lot of attention, but I am unsure as to how many sales were made.


Resource Management Force:

I didn't get much of a chance to see much at this stand, and from what I already knew about them, they are the distributors for QuickNet Networking system in Australia, so they had that on display there. They also appeared to have advertisements for AIC (Australian Internet Company) there, a Sydney Internet Service Provider which offers Amiga support.


Unitech Electronics:

This stand had a lot of small parts sitting around the stand on sale as well as other Amiga products. As they are the distributors for Competition Pro Joypads, Kickboard Plus, Poswiz, and numerous Amiga cables they had all of these on show. As well they had other Amiga Software and Hardware for sale. You could also buy A1200's and A4000 Towers here. A product near completion, which they have been developing, which they planned to have at the show, but didn't get to, was a Tower expansion for the A1200, but due to a missing part, this missed out on being demonstrated at the show.


Amiga Genius:

This stand was next to the Australian Amiga Gazette stand, which was near the entrance so often had a lot of people checking out the stand. Most notably this stand distributes the Amiga Siamese system and had this on display at the show. They also had a variety of chips and cheap (old) software on sale there as well. They were also selling the Amiga Graffiti cards, a card which has similar purpose to that of a graphics card, but has to have software that is specifically written for it in order to use it with it. These units also plug into small- and big-box Amigas. They were also selling the AQCVid software which people can use with the product QuickCam digital camera which captures images, and is ideal for Internet users. They also distributed The GoldenGate 2 Bus+, which allows the plug-in of PC peripherals such as networking cards into big box Amigas with Amiga software support.


Unicorn Solutions:

This stand played host to showing the capability of networking Amigas together from anything from an Amiga 600 up to an Amiga 4000 with '060, and even linking via a PCMCIA Ethernet card on the A600/A1200 to a Win95 PC. Most things which happened here were discussions of Amiga Networking Solutions within Amiga Networks, or Amigas in PC Ethernet networks. As well as using the A4000/060 a demo of a new and upcoming Amiga game which had a graphics engine which looked similar to Quake (albeit not another Doom-game) from the demo coder Accolyte in Cydonia, an Australian Amiga Demo group, was there. This game is not yet complete, but it was nevertheless an amazing demonstration.



The Other Organisations:


Sydney's Commodore Hornsby User Group (CHUG):

This stand didn't really have much to it, and could be probably most noted for one of the members of the group sitting there the whole time playing MegaBall. They also seemed to be helping out those who came to them for information whether it be regarding the group or about the Amiga in general.

Melbourne's North West User Group (NWUG):

This stand had about on average four guys sitting around it answering the questions of people who came up to the stand and asked them both about the group and/or Amigas. They had a newsletter available the group publishes for those who were interested. They also successfully helped to finish off the last part of converting an IBM user to buy an Amiga (so a great commendation for that alone should go here). They were also selling off second-hand parts from the guys' computers who came up.

St. Johns Park High School:

This stand unlike any other had nothing to do specifically with any Amiga organisation, but was sponsered by Unitech Electronics. About 10 or so school children attended this stand with their teacher in which they were designing new graphics in DPaint on the spot and demonstrating via the means of a slideshow and a very impressive video tape the art work and video work they had created using Amigas. The video work was of near-professional quality, an amazing achievement for people that age. This stand also represents an example of TAEN, The Amiga Education Network, the stand where the Amiga International Representative was from.



The Speeches:

There were two speeches made at this show, the one made by me on the Saturday morning, and the one by the Amiga International Representative on Saturday afternoon.


The ICOAi Speech:

The outline of this speech basically says that the ICOAi, or the Industrial Council and Open Amiga Iniative is an organisation with over 1000 developers already, and is hoping to get approval from Amiga International to help form a body in which they can set the standards for future Amiga hardware and software. They also have a goal towards OASYS, Open Amiga operating SYStem, a process of making the AmigaOS no longer hardware-bound. A copy of the speech is available on this page:

http://www.ozemail.com.au/~cyberwlf/CyberAm_News.html

Paul Morabito and myself were the Australian ICOAi people at the show.


The Amiga International Speech:

Held by the man from TAEN, Basil, he represented Petro's representative in Australia, as Petro was unable to in the end attend the show. Using a pre-written speech faxed into the country only that day, he read it out to all who listened. The outcomes of the speech are as follows:

They will:

Although the first three points have been heard a lot of times before, it did surprise me the points mentioned below it as some details are more detailed and more local than any other speech I have ever read before.

The actual TAEN/AI Representative also proceeded to go around to every stand talking to the people working at them as well as meeting with and talking with many Amiga owners there, a truly dedicated Amigan, and one of the people who started up one of the Amiga's first ever Amiga user groups in Australia.



The Seminars:

Besides the speeches certain seminars went on. On the first day there were demonstrations of the Siamese System by Amiga Genius, Networking Amigas by Unicorn Solutions, Amiga Sale of the Century (ten rather easy questions asked to three contestants in a Sale of the Century-style manner, and in which the participants could all win prizes), Directory Opus demonstration by Greg Perry from GP Software, and Amiga Ethernet card and Casablanca demonstration by TechMedia.

Besides the above presentations, on the Sunday the place in which the demonstrations were held also held host to the Amiga User Groups Conference, and also a WildBench (Workbench Comparison) Competition. The outcome of the Amiga User Groups Conference was a very productive conference with many Amiga User Groups from many states in Attendance.



Overall:

In conclusion, this would have to be an excellent Amiga show, and when one takes into consideration the current situation with the Amiga in Australia, and the fact that it has been since 1993 we have had such a show in Australia, I believe it went extremely well. If there are any future shows, which if judging the success of this there should, I'd like to see those who didn't show, show up this time.

This article is Copyright Guy Nathan 1997. If you wish to re-publish this anywhere please e-mail me at cyberwlf@wr.com.au about it first.